Chelsea Residents Finally Draw the Line at Large Glass Mutation

chelseamarket Chelsea Residents Finally Draw the Line at Large Glass MutationNeighborhood residents are speaking out against a budding plan by Chelsea Market owner Jamestown Properties to build towers atop the complex. Evidently, local penthouse owners (whose lives must be pretty rough) had to draw the line somewhere.

Jamestown’s plan would stack two new multi-story spaces on top of the complex. Above the 10th Avenue side, the company would add an eight-story glass office building; and a 12-story boutique hotel would sit atop the east side of the complex. The proposal to build these structures–which, admittedly, may be of dubious aesthetic appeal–has become a subject of outrage for longtime residents who have witnessed the Chelsea Market building’s transformation from old industrial complex to developed neighborhood hot spot over the past two decades.

The real estate company seems surprised at the backlash (the Times reported yesterday that Jamestown has been “taken aback by the uproar”), but may have allies in nonprofit group Friends of the High Line. To build the plan’s structures, the company would have to obtain a zoning variance that would also require them to contribute roughly $17 million to help fund improvements to the High Line project.

Chelsea Market isn’t a designated landmark, but the plan will still have to go through reviews by the community board and the City Planning Department. Given Manhattan’s boundaries, vertical expansion in the neighborhood is inevitable–it’s just a question of whether economic function or aesthetic appeal will win out in this particular battle.

asterling@observer.com